July Is Ice Cream Month

— Written By Sherrie Peeler and last updated by

President Ronald Regan declared July as Ice Cream Month in 1984. What a great way to celebrate summer by having ice cream.

In my family we have ice cream year round. We have even churned ice cream in the kitchen sink and put on sweaters to enjoy the tasty treat. When I was growing up my mother would stop by the Biltmore Dairy Bar in Brevard on our way back to church on Sunday evenings. I sure miss those Diary Bars – You may even remember the one in Biltmore Village. What a selection of flavors and delicious toppings!

In my research for this article I found the most interesting flavor of ice cream – Paw Paw. Kentucky State University makes Paw Paw ice cream. I’ve never actually eaten a Paw Paw myself. I find myself curious to know more about the Paw Paw. Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) fruit has both fresh market and processing appeal, with a tropical like flavor that resembles a combination of banana, mango, and pineapple. Kentucky State University has the only full-time pawpaw research program in the world as part of the University Land Grant Program. Pawpaw research efforts are directed at improving propagation methods, and developing orchard management recommendations.

So for the history of ice cream – Although the exact origins of ice cream may have been lost in history, there are many fascinating legends and myths which surround it. Legend and facts meet and sometimes inaccurately become part of the history.

We do know that the Chinese had discovered how to conserve naturally formed winter ice for summer use by building icehouses, which were kept cool by evaporation. The harvesting and storage of ice are recorded in a poem of circa 1100 B.C. in the Shih Ching, the famous collection of Food Canons. There is also mention of a festival held when the ice houses were opened for summer use.

Ice cream was likely brought from China back to Europe. Over time, recipes for ices, sherbets, and milk ices evolved and served in the fashionable Italian and French royal courts.

And also, that Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589), the Italian-born Queen of France, is said to have taken sorbets to France to the court of Francis I (1494–1547) when she went there to marry the Duc d’Orleans (who later became Henri II) at the age of 14. She brought her staff along to cook for her and her family. Among her chefs was Ruggeri, the first professional ice cream maker. During her month-long wedding celebration, he created and served a different ice daily, with flavors including lemon, lime, orange, cherry, and wild strawberry to surprise the royal banquets guests.

Florence, Italy claims the first ice cream (known as gelato in Italy). In 1565, Bernardo Buontalenti (1531-1608), the architect to the Royal Court of the Medici family, was hired to create and organize luxurious events for the Florentine banquets, including stage constructions, theater events, fireworks, and food. For one of his creations, he introduced his invention of “frozendesserts” made with zabaglione and fruit.

After the dessert was imported to the United States, history records it was served by George Washington as well as Thomas Jefferson to their guests. In 1700, Governor Bladen of Maryland was recorded as having served it to his guests. In 1774, a London caterer named Philip Lenzi announced in a New York newspaper that he would be offering for sale various confections, including ice cream. Dolly Madison served it in 1812.

The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776. American colonists were the first to use the term “ice cream”. The name came from the phrase “iced cream” that was similar to “iced tea”. The name was later abbreviated to “ice cream” the name we know today.

So if you did not enjoy your share in July there is still plenty of summer left to try some “dairylicious” ice cream.

Written By

Photo of Sherrie PeelerSherrie PeelerExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences (828) 586-4009 sherrie_peeler@ncsu.eduJackson County, North Carolina
Posted on Jul 27, 2015
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